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Basic Information

In most people's minds there is no scarier diagnosis than that of cancer.  Cancer is often thought of as an untreatable, unbearably painful disease with no cure. However popular this view of cancer may be, it is exaggerated and over-generalized. Cancer is undoubtedly a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. For example, it is the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 85, and the second leading cause of death in older Americans. There will be 1.5 million new cases of cancer occurring in the United States coming year, and over 570,000 deaths because of it not including basal and squamous skin cancers which are not reported but could add another two million cases per year (ACS, 2010). However, it is a misconception to think that all forms of cancer are untreatable and deadly. The truth of the matter is that there are multiple types of cancer, many of which can today be effectively treated so as to eliminate, reduce or slow the impact of the disease on patients' lives. While a diagnosis of cancer may still leave patients feeling helpless and out of control, in many cases today there is cause for hope rather than hopelessness.

Our goal in this section is to educate you on the basics of cancer and cancer treatment. Possessing this knowledge will, we hope, help you to better understand what cancer is, how it occurs, and how to make informed choices about cancer care options.

What is Cancer?

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